Abg Johari: State on track to achieve 5 mln tourists target

MIRI: Sarawak is expected to register a faster growth rate above eight per cent in the peak period between May and September this year, putting it on track to achieve five million tourists this year.

With the first quarter of the year registering an eight per cent growth and the weaker ringgit being a strong pull factor as the greenback has further strengthened against the Malaysian currency, the target is achievable.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the rising trend, boosted by a forex-driven boon, would push the growth rate higher than the eight per cent in the first quarter of this year.

“This is a positive development as January and February are supposedly ‘lean months’, and if this trend continues, there is a possibility that we may touch five million tourist arrivals,” he said.

The weaker ringgit would further fuel this increasingly significant buoyant services sector of the state economy, with an uptick in hospitality industry despite an anticipated annual trough expected between October and December.

Abang Johari expected a favourable foreign exchange range with the ringgit due to greater inflow of tourist dollars in shopping and spending in the state this year.

“Shopping has become another attraction and two guests from the US recently told me that they were impressed with the shopping experience here where certain goods are just as attractive as the shopping hub of Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

The state being marketed as a film-making destination is also gaining traction with two on the scene, including one involving Jacky Chan and Running Man China programme which may include an episode here.

The state will screen the scripts before filming could be approved.

The state tourism authorities will continue to pursue the different segments to further develop this evolving industry.

Asked on the situation in Sabah where there is a thinning of tourist arrival after it was hit by an earthquake and aftershocks and the closing of Mt Kinabalu to climbers, he said the state was cooperating with the tourism authorities there.

He believed it was a temporary phenomenon and would pass.

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